The first Polish artistic and literary cabaret, active in Cracow between 1905 and 1912.  Zielony Balonik (literally, the Green Balloon) was created by painters and authors who felt a need to make fun of the anomalies and depravities of life in Cracow (Kraków) and Galicia. It became famous for its satires, known as “satirical szopka”, reaching the height of popularity when the author of most of the texts and the moving spirit of the cabaret was Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, literary and drama critic, translator and publicist.

The Zielony Balonik szopka was staged in 1906, 1907, 1908, 1911, and 1912. The first three programmes were given only once, the next were repeated many times for a public who had no ties with the activities of the cabaret. The stage of the szopka, modelled on a Cracow suburban church, resembled the architectural design of the traditional Christmas szopka with its towers and an area set aside for a puppet performance. The Zielony Balonik szopka combined the tradition of folk szopka with the inventive imagination of the Balonik artists who thus created a specific Polish cabaret satirical form, a satirical puppet show in which simple stick puppets (marottes), made up to look like well-known people, presented the issues of greatest concern in Cracow, relating to the artistic and intellectual circles of the city, reflecting these as it were in a crooked mirror.

The popularity of the Zielony Balonik launched the style of the satirical szopka, which soon spread across the country and embraced all layers of society for several decades, up until the beginning of World War II.

(See also Cabaret, Poland.)


  • Gawlik, Jan Paweł. Powrót do Jamy [Return to the Cave]. Kraków: WAG, 1961.[S]
  • Weiss, Tomasz. Legenda i prawda Zielonego Balonika [The Legend and the Truth of the Zielony Balonik]. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1976.[S]